PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT PLAN: 2023 Templates, Examples & What You Need

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A performance improvement plan can help an underperforming or deficient employee correct their behavior and become a valuable member of an employer’s team. Discover the benefits of using a performance improvement plan policy and templates as a manager or business owner, as well as valuable examples of what to include to get struggling employee rights back on track. In addition, how do you respond to a performance improvement plan?

What is a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)?

A performance improvement plan (PIP) is a formal document outlining the changes that an employee must make in order to keep their job. PIPs typically outline a list of performance goals that employees must meet within a specific timeframe—typically 30, 60, or 90 days. For example, an employee who has difficulty meeting deadlines, causing delays in other departments, may be given a PIP outlining a helpful, step-by-step process for meeting those deadlines.

Following a PIP may be the last step before termination for an employee; however, managers use PIPs as a tool with human resources (HR) and the employee as a clear path to improving performance.

Benefits of a Performance Improvement Plan

A performance improvement plan benefits both employees and the company. Some of the advantages are as follows:

#1. It improves employee morale.

PIP focuses on helping employees improve rather than punishing them for poor performance. It ensures that employees who are struggling with their jobs but want to improve receive assistance from the company. They can be confident that the company wants them to improve if they have actionable goals and support. This improves employee morale.

#2. Reduces staff turnover.

Frequently searching for, hiring, and training new employees, as well as allowing time for them to adjust to their jobs for optimal output, can be costly for the company. As a result, it is critical to keep staff turnover to a minimum. With a PIP, you can avoid high turnover by assisting employees in resolving issues rather than terminating them.

#3. It promotes responsibility and efficiency.

Employees must feel accountable for their work in order to achieve results. While some people understand their roles and take them seriously, others may require honest feedback and guidance. PIP assists you in communicating gaps and clarifying expected outcomes, thereby motivating employees to be accountable and efficient in their work.

Performance Improvement Plan Templates

Using our 5-step guide, you can create your own performance improvement plan policy templates. To save time, we also recommend confirming an existing and relevant performance improvement plan template online.

How to Write Performance Improvement Plan Policy Templates

You now understand what your performance improvement plan policy should include and have seen some examples. All that remains is to gather all of the information and begin writing a performance improvement plan for a specific employee and issue.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing your performance improvement plan templates to assist you.

#1. Establish acceptable performance levels

Describe acceptable performance and compare it to what you are currently witnessing from your employee. Include specific examples of behavior and performance to demonstrate where the employee is falling short.

Instead of surprising an employee with a PIP, hold a meeting beforehand to discuss performance issues. All parties (manager, HR, and employee) should be given the opportunity to provide feedback. You want the employee to feel involved and committed to meeting goals.

#2. Establish measurable goals

Use the SMART framework to define the goals that your employee must achieve. Determine your success criteria. You must be certain that a PIP is worthwhile. Determine the source of the poor performance.

It is possible that the employee is feeling overwhelmed by work expectations, or that he is dealing with personal issues that you are unaware of. Alternatively, the employee may not be interested in staying with your company in the long run.

#3. Determine how the employee will be supported.

Describe how the employee’s manager will assist him in meeting the performance improvement plan policy goal. This may entail training, coaching, or the use of additional resources.

The goal of a performance improvement plan policy is to help the employee improve so that he can stay on your team. Rather than expecting him to achieve the goals on his own, consider what he might be missing from you that would improve his performance.

#4. Create a check-in schedule.

Set a schedule for a meeting with the employee to provide feedback. Make a check-in calendar. It is pointless to create a PIP and then wait until the deadline to check on the employee’s progress.

Regular check-ins will enable the employee to express any concerns or difficulties. Furthermore, they will allow you to confirm whether he is on the right track or whether further action is required.

#5. Describe the consequences of a lack of improvement.

Make it clear what will happen if the employee fails to meet the improvement target.

You should now understand why you want to use a performance improvement plan policy, how to create performance plan templates for your specific situation, and what to include. One thing remains: your employee must understand how to respond to and pass the performance improvement plan policy. To ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible, share the following tips with your employee.

Your employee mustn’t interpret the PIP as a sign that he will be fired soon. Remember to compliment him on his strengths and express your desire to see him improve. Set a goal that the employee believes he can achieve and that will benefit everyone.

Performance Improvement Plan Examples

Following your initial conversation with the employee, his manager should draft a performance improvement plan and submit it to HR for review.

Here are a few examples of a performance improvement plan that you can adapt for your own PIPs templates.

#1. Customer service improvement

Customer service is the subject of our first sample performance improvement plan.

This type of performance improvement plan may be required if clients complain about the attitude or support they receive from a specific employee.

Goal: The overall goal of a PIP may be to improve client interactions.

Objectives: One possible way to meet such a goal is to improve customer retention or engagement.

Action: To achieve the aforementioned goals, the employee could work more closely with customers to resolve issues or attend a customer service training session.

Metrics: The customer churn rate or customer satisfaction score is likely to be the most appropriate metric.

#2. Improve the low-quality of work

In other cases, an employee may have little or no contact with customers but still provide poor quality work in other ways.

Goal: Increase work quality.

Objectives: Meeting deadlines or producing error-free work

Action: The first goal is straightforward: employees must meet all deadlines within the timeframe specified in the performance improvement plan. The second goal necessitates working with a senior team member to check for errors and determine whether the quality is acceptable.

Metrics: Number of missed deadlines and work quality (the latter may be subjective).

#3. Productivity case study

This example is best suited for someone in middle management. Assume the employee is in charge of increasing the number of subscribers to a program. There is little (if any) change after several months.

Goal: Increase the number of subscribers to X.

Objectives: Increase the number of clients who have signed up for the program and decrease the number of unsubscribes.

Action: Improve campaigns, better advertise (or increase) program benefits, and implement a retention strategy.

Metrics: Subscriptions and unsubscriptions.

#4. Unprofessional behavior

Our final sample performance improvement plan is for unprofessional behavior.

This type of PIP may be required in a variety of situations, including mistreatment of subordinates or coworkers, persistent tardiness, and unauthorized absences.

Goal: Completely stop the behavior.

Objectives: arriving on time, treating others with respect, and attending all required meetings.

Action: Only miss work when excused for personal or medical reasons. Get proper workplace behavior training.

Metrics: Some behaviors are easily measurable for example, did the employee arrive on time every day? Other circumstances are more subjective. For example, you might need to speak with subordinates who were having difficulty working with the employee.

Performance Improvement Plan Employee Rights

It is critical that you are aware of your rights as an employee under the performance improvement plan policy. That way, if a difficult situation arises at work, you won’t be left in the dark.

Being placed on a performance improvement plan is a frightening and perplexing concept for many employees. They may be unsure what it means for their career or whether their company is handling PIP legally.

Continue reading to ensure you understand your rights as an employee in terms of the performance improvement plan policy.

Is a PIP a negative action?

Employees are legally protected from “adverse actions” taken by their employers in retaliation. This includes being demoted, having your salary reduced, or being fired.

Being placed on a performance improvement plan is not considered an adverse action in most courts. It is difficult to demonstrate that the PIP is being used for disciplinary purposes. A legal claim against your employer based solely on PIP is unlikely to succeed.

Signing the PIP notice

When the employee is given notice of the PIP, the employer will request his or her signature. Some people are concerned that signing will be interpreted as an admission of poor performance. Refusing to sign may be interpreted as a refusal to cooperate on performance improvement, and thus grounds for termination.

You should sign the PIP as requested, but please adhere to the guidelines below.

  • Read through and evaluate the document thoroughly before signing.
  • If an employee discovers that something in the PIP document is false or incorrect, he or she should bring it to the attention of HR or upper management, accompanied by evidence.
  • Only sign a statement if you are simply acknowledging receipt of the PIP notification.
  • If the wording in any way implies that you agree with the assessment of poor performance, include a disclaimer under your signature: “Signature indicates I have received this document; it does not indicate agreement to the terms contained within.”

Can I refuse to complete the PIP?

Refusing to follow a performance improvement plan will not help you.

This could be interpreted as an act of defiance and a failure to complete the work assigned to you. These are considered reasonable grounds for dismissal.

If you want to keep your job, you should accept the PIP and work hard to meet the goals that have been set for you.

When Should You Implement an Employee Performance Improvement Plan?

Employee Performance Improvement Plans are most effective when implemented when an employee is experiencing difficulties. Managers should be able to detect signs of an underperforming employee. Reduced productivity, decreased engagement, and those who are taking more time off or becoming unpunctual are all signs that an employee is struggling. When there is a clear trend of poor performance, the process should be initiated.

You may also implement a Performance Improvement Plan for the following reasons:

  • During a company’s probationary period for an employee.
  • If an employee has historically been a good employee but has recently demonstrated an anomalous trend of poor performance.
  • If an employee performs poorly in a few areas while excelling in the majority of others.
  • When your employee handbook lacks a proper performance improvement strategy, the PIP provides a viable alternative.
  • When an employee is dealing with personal issues that have recently impacted their performance.

How to Respond to a Performance Improvement Plan

As an employee, you must understand how to move past a performance improvement plan and learn from the experience.

How to respond to a Performance Improvement Plan

Your manager should have established reasonable and attainable performance goals for you. It is now up to you to decide whether these goals are worthwhile.

  • If you don’t want to stay at the company for much longer, you can save everyone time and stress by starting a job search instead.
  • If you decide that your job is worth keeping (which should be the majority of the time), try to look at the PIP in a positive light. Consider it useful feedback to help you learn and grow within the company and throughout your career.

How to Survive a Performance Improvement Plan

The next step is to complete your performance improvement plan and emerge as a more qualified and valuable employee. This entails:

#1. Making your job a top priority

Avoid staying out late on work nights, accepting all optional invitations to work events, and focusing your time at work solely on work-related activities.

#2. Seeking support when necessary

A PIP is frequently an indication that your company believes you are valuable as an employee. If you have any questions, contact your manager or human resources.

#3. Maintaining a positive attitude

Every day, bring a positive attitude to work. Don’t let minor setbacks discourage you.

A PIP is an excellent strategy for retaining an employee whose performance has recently dipped but who has the potential and motivation to remain a valuable team member.

Whether you are the employer or the employee, you should never regard a performance improvement plan as a mere prelude to termination. Rather, it should be a useful tool for transforming a dissatisfied employee into a valuable asset to the company.

What should a performance improvement plan include?

A good PIP contains all the necessary information to define the problems, goals, solutions, and outcomes. Here is the information you should include when writing it:

  • Employee actual details
  • The reason for PIP
  • Problem areas
  • Improvement objectives
  • Timeline
  • Expectations and outcomes

Is a performance improvement plan a warning?

While a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is not a disciplinary action, it does serve as a formal warning of underperformance and acknowledgment of one’s inability to achieve certain goals.

How do you write a performance improvement plan example?

There are several items to include in your PIP. I strongly advise using online templates for a performance improvement plan and then tailoring the questions and processes to your specific strategy. Nonetheless, you should take the following approach:

  • Determine the performance/behavior that needs to be improved.
  • Give specific examples of your reasoning.
  • Describe the expected standard.
  • Determine training and support.
  • Establish check-in and review points.
  • Sign and acknowledge it.

How long should a pip last?

This is entirely up to you and should be based on existing variables. What is the gravity of this situation? How much do you want to change on a particular issue? How long will it take the individual to adjust? Is there more than one problem? Ask yourself these questions, as well as any that pertain to the situation. Having said that, PIPs typically last 30, 60, or 90 days.

Can you get fired after PIP?

When it comes to PIPs, things can go either way: some employees will be fired after receiving a PIP, while others will not only keep their jobs but thrive in them. The good news is that you can influence the outcome in some cases.

Can you be fired during a PIP?

Even if you disagree with the decision, a PIP is a task assigned by the employer, and failing to complete it gives them a valid reason to take disciplinary action or terminate employment.

Do you have to agree to a PI?

Not all PIPs require your signature to indicate your acceptance. If you are required to sign something and do not agree with the performance allegations or the process, you should not sign it.

To Wrap Up

You need to know the goal, policy, and templates of the performance improvement plan, also as an employee, you need to stand for your rights.

Performance Improvement Plan FAQs

What happens at the end of a pip?

A successful outcome occurs when the employee raises her performance rating, meets all the PIP requirements, and her job performance returns to normal. A successful outcome in this case means continued employment and, possibly, a salary increase.

Can you recover from a pip?

No, not always. PIPs are completed by people who go on to become successful employees at the companies where they completed them. However, it is not common practice for employers to keep track of the percentage of employees who successfully improve their performance.

Should I quit after PIP?

You should not resign in response to your performance improvement plan. In many cases, even if you are facing imminent termination, your voluntary resignation will preclude you from filing a legal claim. To summarize, a well-planned and executed PIP can work in your favor.

Are there Performance Improvement Plan Employee Rights?

Yes, there are performance improvement plan employee rights

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